Brazilian Barbecue at Tokyo’s Barbacoa
Summer, of course, is the perfect time of year for barbecuing, and yet somehow the image of myself melting under the scorching heat coming from both the sun and the barbecue does not entice me at all. Luckily last weekend, I found the perfect solution at Barbacoa's newish Roppongi Hills location. Like the chain's other locations, it offers Brazilian barbecue cuisine (churrasco) and an appetizing selection of salads and Brazilian dishes. The best part is being able to enjoy great barbecue food in a comfortable, air-conditioned, resort-like setting without the hassle of food preparation and smoky smelling clothes.
Originating from Sao Paulo, Barbacoa has been serving delicious currasco since 1990. Large skewers of meat and vegetables slowly roasted in a custom-made rotisserie oven are served at your table by the friendly English speaking staff. Traditionally only lightly salted, churrasco allows the true flavor of the meat to come through. The meat selection starts with grain-fed Black Angus beef with a balanced lean-to-fat ratio, giving you just the perfect juicy, tender, beefy taste in every bite. My top recommendation is the picanha special rump steak (イチボ in Japanese) and the grilled pineapple, all in one bite! The pineapple juice balances out the fat from the meat, creating a mouth-watering sensation. Other fine choices include sirloin, flank steak, lamb, and pork.
The whole all-you-can-eat offering (¥5,400 per person) includes 15 kinds of skewers and more than 40 salad bar choices full of fresh vegetables and Brazilian deli dishes. One special side dish to look out for is pao de queijo, a soft, slightly chewy cheese bread that is served to your table. If your food craving becomes too large for your stomach, I would recommend skipping the sausages and grilled chicken, as the portions are bigger than others. You can also ask the servers to cut a smaller portion for you. For those of us who usually have trouble deciding what to order, this is perfect because you can just try a bite of everything (I sure did!).
For drinks, my favorite was the caipirinha, a Brazilian cocktail of sugar cane liquor and lime (be sure to squeeze the lime juice out!). It’s not included in the cheaper free drink course, but it’s definitely worth the ¥500 upgrade to the course that costs ¥2,700 for two hours. Non-alcoholic drinks, like maracuja (passion fruit) juice and mate tea are also great choices.
With a flow of light music and spacious interior design, Barbacoa offers a resort-like buffet experience, bringing me back to relaxing South American resort vacations of the past. The table layout offers enough privacy for couples, but also plenty of room to accommodate large parties. Everyone can enjoy the experience at the same time, as opposed to an outdoor barbeque, where at least one person needs to do the cooking in the heat.
Address: Roppongi Hills West Walk 5F, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo (There are also locations in Aoyama, Marunouchi, Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Takanawa. See the website for details.)
Open: Daily, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. for lunch (last order 2 p.m. on weekdays; 3 p.m. on weekends and holidays) and 5–11 p.m. for dinner (last order 10 p.m.)